A number of years ago a few friends and I took a road trip to go skiing and snowboarding in Brian Head, Utah. We rented a cabin which had a full kitchen and one morning my friend Jason cooked everyone scrambled eggs.
But I noticed he was doing something I’ve never seen before…
Okay scrambled eggs aren’t typically barbecued, but it was this moment that lead me to writing this article so I thought I’d mention it.
Before cracking open his eggs he submerged them in hot water. Now–Jason is a chef so I trusted he knew what he was doing so I had to ask him the obvious question.
“Is there a reason why you are trying to drown our eggs before you cook them?”
He let out a short laugh and looked at me and said, “You got to bring your eggs up in temperature before you cook them, that way they have less distance to travel before they get cooked.”
He shrugged his shoulders some and said, “It makes them fluffy.”
That was an awesome tip and it got me thinking about all the little tips and tricks I have learned through the years.
So here’s a few BBQ tips I have learned along the way (plus the egg tip I learned from Jason).
Cooking From Experience
1. Bring Eggs To Room Temperature
Before cooking an omelet or scrambled eggs, submerge your eggs (still in the shells) in hot, not boiling, water for 4 or 5 minutes. This will reduce the distance they need to travel in temperature to cook which in turn helps to make them more fluffy.
If you don’t refrigerate your eggs, skip this.
2. Peeling Garlic
We all know you can smash or crush garlic so that the cloves will slide right out of their skins, but did you know that you can also microwave it for 10-20 seconds instead? The cloves will slide right out.
3. Help With Melting Cheese
When cooking something which you plan to melt cheese on (e.g. cheese burgers), let the cheese sit out on the table for a bit before putting it on your food to melt. Like #1 above, bringing it closer to temperature will make it melt faster.
4. Reserve That Bacon Fat
After you have cooked bacon, let the grease cool and then pour it into a container (I use a ziplock bag) and freeze it for later use.
When ready, melt it on the stove and use it as an oil.
Works great as a basting oil over burgers to help get a good char.
5. Why I Prefer Charcoal Briquettes Over Lump
If you are using charcoal, consider using briquettes over lump because they are always the same shape and approximate size. This allows you to count how many pieces produce X temperature every time.
Lump charcoal comes in various sizes and it’s almost impossible to measure how much makes a specific temperature.
6. Help With Getting An Even Cook On Meat
When cooking meat, let it sit out of the refrigerator for awhile (about an hour but depends on how big the meat/poultry is). Letting it rise close to room temperature shortens the distance at which the middle of the meat needs to cook to reach desired doneness.
If the center is too cold, the exterior will finish cooking way before the interior.
*When letting meat sit, set it on a rack over a baking or sheet pan so that the room temperature air can circulate around it rather than just hitting the top and sides.
*Salting the meat also helps reduce bacterial growth.
7. Slice Meat Across the Grain
When slicing meat, look for which way the grain goes and slice perpendicular to it (i.e. across the grain). This will make chewing the meat much more tender as all the fibers will be short rather than long.
In the image above we are looking at a brisket. You can clearly see which way the grain travels. When you slice it after it’s cooked, be sure to cut across the grain, not with it.
8. Dry Your Protein
If you’re looking to get a good crust on your meat or poultry, make sure all the water on its surface is dried off. Water steams, oil fries.
9. Helping To Keep Meat Juicy
Oiling your meat just before you cook it can help keep moisture from escaping, in other words help to keep it juicy. Oil repels water and when you cook food the moisture in the food tries to escape to the surface where it will steam off.
If it meets a layer of oil at the surface, it can help block the water from escaping.
10. Does Searing Lock In Juices?
Searing your meat does NOT lock in the juices.
11. Reverse Sear Thicker Cuts
If you pan fry a dish, like steak, and the protein is too thick to finish on the stove and thus require being finished in the oven, consider doing the reverse. Start the protein in the oven and then finishing it on the stove (reverse sear).
This will produce a slightly more tender and more evenly cooked piece of food.
12. Cook By Temperature
It’s okay to be a cook who cooks by temperature rather than that expert who can cook by feel alone. Poking your protein a couple times with a thermometer is not going to dry it out. Meat, like us, is made up of mostly water and what little you poke it to test the temperature is not going to make all the juiciness run away.
The best way to keep it juicy is to make sure you’re on point with cooking it to the correct temperature.
13. Easy Way To Start a Charcoal Chimney
If you have a gas grill which includes a side burner and you also own a charcoal grill, an easy way to light charcoal is to fill them in a chimney and light the chimney/charcoal over the side burner flame of your gas grill.
14. Thawing Food In Water
Water is a great conductor. If you need to thaw protein quicker than simply setting it in the refrigerator–and if you’re like me, hate doing it in the microwave, then submerge the protein in cold water and put it back in the fridge.
Water will conduct the heat faster through the meat than normal air, which is a terrible conductor. If it’s red meat, like steak, you can put it in a zip lock bag and then submerge the zip lock in water.
In the image above I took 4 frozen chicken breasts and submerged them in cold water and then placed the bowl in the refrigerator. It took the two slightly smaller pieces about an hour to defrost and the other two larger about an hour and a half.
What Tips Do You Have?
Can you add to this list? What cooking tips have you come across which have been useful to you?